We’ve reached a time in parenthood when we need to be hyper-aware of what our kids are doing online. It’s a tough job that many of us don’t really want to do– it’s hard to manage and it’s another thing to worry about.
Kids feel social pressure around friendships, academics and sports just as we did, but the difference now is our children don’t get a break. They come home, pick up their phones and are able to see what everyone else is doing, and how everyone is posing for the camera, then are free to make comments.
News spreads (and get blown out of proportion) like wildfire.
We all know it’s very easy to sit behind a computer screen and make comments, then go about our day (adults do it too). And tweens and teens can be mean; they’ve not yet developed the social skills adults have that allow them to take the time and think about how they may be affecting another person. It’s our job as parents to monitor what they are doing online.
I think about how certain comments, or seeing other peoples highlights on social media, can impact me and other mums I talk to– think of what that looks like for a child who is already flooded with pressures, hormones and a changing body.
We have to learn how to support them through this; social media is a part of life that isn’t going away, and as much as I’d like to take my kids’ devices away from them forever, I don’t think that’s the answer. I need to be aware as a mother and have the tools to help my children.
After reading an article published in Parents, I felt I had a better grip on the subject. This is a first for my kids and for me, I need all the help I can get. I realised very early on, just because a child isn’t bullying them face to face, and they are a “good” kid (mine included), it doesn’t mean they’ve never tried out bullying online.
Besides the obvious things to take into consideration around this subject such as only allowing your child to use their phone or computer in a common area, and make sure you have access to all their social media accounts, Parents pointed out a few things you can do to stop cyberbullying that I hadn’t thought of:
First, don’t take away your child’s privilege to be on their phone if they are getting bullied. I know this was my first response when it happened to my daughter. I figured if she wasn’t on her phone for a while, it would take away all opportunities for this to keep happening. But what that does is make your child become more secretive and less likely to come to you with problem– they want to be on their hone like everyone else is and this feels like punishment.
Also, it’s also important not to overreact or under-react when this happens. We are trained to tell our kids to rise above and not let stuff like this bother them. But the truth is, it does bother them very much at this tender time. If we shrug it off, it can make them feel insecure about their feelings.
Instead, it’s important to talk them through their feelings and let them know you are the there for support. Whether they feel physically threatened or not, if they go to the same school, a teacher or guidance counsellor should be made aware of what’s going on.
My first reaction is to have my kids delete the nasty comment, but the article recommends keeping them visible as you may need them later if the problem worsens and you need to get other adults involved.
Cyberbullying should be an ongoing conversation. Our kids need to know what’s acceptable to say online and what bullying looks like, no matter how much time they spend on their phone.